Summer is almost here and that means grilling, swimming, and warmer weather. It also means air conditioner season and this summer air conditioner repairs will come with skyrocketing costs for the refrigerant R22, more commonly known as Freon™.
We discussed the R22 phase out earlier this year, and creation of R22 refrigerant has already decreased by 90%. By 2020, production will be prohibited. Homeowners now face the challenge of whether to repair or to replace their system using R22 refrigerant from both a financial and environmental perspective.
The R22 phase out has added new variables to consider if you are thinking about repairing or replacing your air conditioner. For instance, some refrigerant manufacturers are selling less expensive alternatives to R22, often referred to as “drop-in” replacement refrigerant, but those alternatives are cheaper only in the short run.
“Lennox®, one of the leading air conditioning manufacturers, has conducted research that shows these less expensive alternate refrigerants are not capable of working with the lubricating oil used in R22 units,” said Dave Moody, Vice President of Marketing at Service Experts Heating and Air Conditioning. “Recharging older air conditioning systems with these alternative refrigerants could actually damage the unit and create more high-cost problems. These so called drop-in refrigerants will also nullify any applicable manufacturer’s warranty.”
Because of the R22 phase out, the heating and cooling industry is seeing the cost to repair older A/C equipment needing additional R22 refrigerant increase by 300% to 400%, and that cost is only expected to keep increasing as summer approaches.
New A/C systems use the more environmentally friendly R410A refrigerant, a different refrigerant that cannot be combined or used in an existing air conditioning system or heat pump designed for R22. Currently, reclamation and recycling of R22 is expected to be satisfactory for existing systems, though at a much higher cost, providing time to upgrade equipment before the phase-out period.
“Homeowners aren’t required to replace their equipment now, but it’s good for them to know their options in this situation,” added Moody. “It’s essential to know you can’t mix R22 and R410A. When a new R410A system is installed, both the outdoor coil and equipment need replacing, and the interconnecting refrigerant tubing needs inspecting. These newer systems are often far more energy-efficient and can seriously save on energy costs, sound pollution, or even utilize alternative energy sources like solar energy.”
The typical life-span of many home air conditioners is eight to ten years, which will help homeowners determine the cost benefit of either paying the rising price for R22 to repair older systems, versus upgrading. Additional benefits to upgrading include the opportunity to take advantage of energy rebates being offered and improving your home’s energy-efficiency. New systems will also have longer warranty periods, quieter operation, and the peace of mind of a more ozone-friendly refrigerant, not to mention improved home comfort through more advanced technology.
To learn more about your repair or replacement options, call A-PLUS today at 301-747-3140 today.